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♪ >> to the shores of tripoli. let's play hardball. >> good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, war on gadhafi. that's what western nations want to see from libya's muammar gadhafi who announced the immediate cease-fire after the u.n. voted to strike against his forces. no indication yet that the so-called cease-fire is anything more than a delaying tactic designed to keep the west out
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while gadhafi's forces planned to wipe out rebels. the rebels were cheering and firing celebration shots in the air when hearing the u.n. is coming. we will get a report from richard engel who is heading into the country. plus, what country is going to take charge? what role will the u.s. play? and did the u.n. vote come too late to stop gadhafi? will gadhafi fight for the death or accept some kind of deal. answer those questions as we prepare to fight in a third muslim country. and japanese authorities have raised the assessment of a nuclear disaster to a five -- that's three mile island level on a seven-point scale and they now more or less admit they are overwhelmed. wow. they're employing a throw against the wall and see what sticks approach in the nuclear commission. it says it can take weeks to get this thing under control. score one for the unions in wisconsin. the judge has temporarily blocked the new law shrinking collective bargaining rights in
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that state. wow, democrats hope this is the first of many obstacles. republicans say, it's just a speed bump, check it out. let me finish with libya. we know how we're getting in. but do you have any idea how we're going to get out? we start on libya. richard engle is joining us from cairo. thank you, richard, give us a sense of what's happening as the u.n. begins to take action. what is the condition of the rebel force especially in benghazi? >> the rebel force is very weak in benghazi and across the country. what happened was, the rebels advanced very quickly. they took benghazi almost by surprise. and then as they were riding this wave of enthusiasm, they decided to leave their strong hold, benghazi. they went out to places like ajdabiya. they went to the open desert. they overextended the supply lines, they got stopped by gadhafi's forces. they consolidated in benghazi.
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and they're hoping with air cover with this no-fly zone they can regain momentum and topple gadhafi's regime. >> why were they shooting shots of celebration in the air when they heard of the u.n. vote? >> they think the u.n. vote levels the playing field right now. that gadhafi's forces won't be able to come in and carry out a massacre. there were people in benghazi, there have been every night, who are terrified that tonight is going to be the night that there will be some sort of chemical attack. that there will be a massive artillery attack, an air raid, and the international community will sit back and watch and tolerate it. now the international community, including the united states and europe, are saying that it is not acceptable and if there is a -- a massacre or an incident like that, that there would be an immediate military response. >> let me ask you to give me your assessment, richard, of what it means to say that the united states has unique
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capabilities. this is what the president said a few hours ago. this is what they said. this is something to try to figure out right now. here he is, the president. >> we will provide the unique capabilities that we can bring to bare to stop the violence against civilians, including enabling our european airlines and arab partners to effectively enforce a no-fly zone. >> that's the question. we've got the air power. is that what he means? >> it's not just air power. the u.s. -- what does the u.s. have uniquely? and it's not our charm and our ability to make apple pie. there are some unique capacities that the u.s. has. intelligence, satellites, aircraft carriers, important for any no-fly zone. some cover. he used the word "enablers." the u.s. can provide the platform for a sustained air cover over libya, that the
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european countries simply do not have. it's not just the fighter jets, it's all of the support mechanisms, the u.s. has more aircraft carriers compared to the rest of the world combined. >> is it going to be the operations where it has the u.n. insignia or the cover for the mission but essentially led by the u.s.? is that where we're headed at this point again? >> what i think we could be headed for is a long operation where you have the rebels in the east in benghazi, gadhafi in tripoli and in the west to a degree. and the international community with the west involved trying to level the playing field. if you level the playing field in a country where the two sides are separated by 600, 700 miles of open desert, you could have a situation where the u.s. is preventing massacres but allowing a low-level civil war to take place that could go on
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for years. so this involvement could not be -- might not be quick. it might be a very, very long sustained operation more like what we saw in the balkans. >> what happens if gadhafi is smart and he observes the u.n. rule, which is basically, don't go after civilians and simply says, all right, i'm going to allow all civilians who want to leave benghazi to leave. it'm going to let you leave. i'm going to have a senator corridor where they are allowed to loaf, total safety. other countries, the chinese, everybody is coming in there. they can come in and watch that. i'm going to be proper here. i'm going after the rebels. what stops him from doing that. i'm going after my rebels. in my country, you have not had any sanction or any mandate to stop that. >> i think you were on the phone with his strategist. that's what his strategy will be. as i was preparing for this live shot, the foreign minister was saying that he wants
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international monitors to come in. they are urgently calling for people from around the world to come not only to tripoli, but across libya to see what's happening on the ground. and if there's an armed conflict, the libyan government has the right to defend itself. if they are right and there are combatants not a democratic movement of students, the rebels do have weapons, they're not advanced, but they do have weapons. under any kind of international charter, a government has the right to defend itself. that strategy of opening a humanitarian corridor, but certainly calling for international observers to say, hey, we're not just killing civilians. we are fighting armed militants and the world is open to see that. that's the next step and the step that it's calling for. >> the libyan deputy foreign minister have put out a quote, quote, crimes against humanity
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are by the rebels. committed by the rebels. is he trying to get the world opinion to modify itself and give him some leeway to go after the rebels? >> he is. he's talking about how the rebels are desecrating the bodies of the people he has been capturing and how the rebels have been taken prisoners. i've seen prisoners that have been captured by the rebels. and he's trying to get the world to see that gadhafi is not just crushing a bunch of unarmed student protesters like had been the case in egypt and yemen today, that it's an armed insurrection and any country in the world has the right to defend against an armed insurrection. there was a civil war in the united states. the north didn't want the soult -- south to break way, the u.s. fought to keep the union. >> can you detect a conflict
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between the secretaries of state and defense. a few days ago, it seems that the secretary of defense showed out a role not to get in a war in the middle east again. you would have to be out of your mind. you would have to have your head examined to do it. here we are leading what looks like a u.n. effort to go into another arab country, perhaps not on the ground, but we're going in by air with everything we've got, it looks like. my question, is there a conflict in doctrine here between hillary clinton, the secretary of state, and bob gates? >> i'm not privy to the conversations themselves. there seems to be a contradiction, if you don't want to get in a war, don't conduct yourselves in an international no-fly zone. the u.s. doesn't want to sit
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back idly by and allow a massacre to happen. the u.s. has experience with gadhafi. the u.s. knows what the regime in libya is capable of doing without international action. and without specifically u.s. action. the president said tonight there is every reason to believe without international action or the threat of action that gadhafi would carry out atrocities against his people. that's certainly what the people of benghazi do believe, and i think that the u.s. and the president felt this moral obligation to at least use the threat of force and probably back it up if those atrocities take place, but not to launch a ground war to go in and remove gadhafi themselves. that's why i think this should could be a very protracted conflict with the u.s. providing this kind of balancing act to keep the two sides fighting a fair conflict and a fair conflict in libya where you have the rebels and benghazi and gadhafi in tripoli and the armed
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forces somewhat neutralized or put on the shelf could take a long time. >> thank you very much. great reporting as always. richard engle in cairo tonight. up next, what will the u.n. resolution against libya mean for us? are we going to take the lead i libya? are we fighting another war in a muslim country. how much of this is going to be an american war. that's a big question as we go into the weekend. he garage, while my sneezing and my itchy eyes took refuge from the dust in here and the pollen outside. but with 24-hour zyrtec®, i get prescription strength relief from my worst allergy symptoms. it's the brand allergists recommend most. ♪ lily and i are back on the road again. where we belong. with zyrtec®, i can love the air®.
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the efforts by the international community to come together to make clear tore gadhafi he cannot continue his violence against his own people, he cannot continue to attack those who started out by peacefully demonstrating for changes that are within the
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right of any human being. >> there you have it. secretary of state hillary clinton. welcome back to "hardball." what's next? we are joined by mark thompson. let me ask you, mr. ambassador, i read two things going on at the same time. one, the united states through our president reading a very particular u.n. resolution. we are going in with no-fly zone and other efforts to protect civilians. i hear the secretary of state with a very firm voice saying we are going after gadhafi. the president also allows that. are we going in to enforce a u.s. resolution to protect citizens or to topple gadhafi piece by piece? >> maybe -- >> what we are doing is starting on space one, first space. heading for a home run.
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we will start with this resoluti resolution. he's saying i will observe the resolution, not go after civilians. you will be ham strung, i will survive. >> he can't survive if he backs away like that. he has to maintain that image of being all powerful. otherwise he loses. he has a whole group of people ready to come after him if he -- he made a lot of enemies. i don't think he can afford to look weak or back down in the face of international pressure. >> here is more of secretary clinton today on the cease-fire. let's watch. >> we have seen press reports of a cease-fire by the libyan government. this is a fluid and dynamic situation. we are going to be not responsive or impressed by words. we would have to see actions on
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the ground. that is not yet at all clear. >> that's the look of hillary clinton commander in chief. >> i'm not knocking it. didn't she look strong? she looks like she knows what she is doing. she does want gadhafi there five more minutes. the president is operating on balance act. she seems to know what she is doing. i'm getting rid of gadhafi, much more hawk i shaish. the president on march 3 said he must go. the president did not say that today. >> he already said it. why say it again? >> with the back of the united nations you would like to have the clout behind them. if you -- >> acting as if he is ignoring limited nature of the u.n. resolution. >> they don't have egypt or saudi arabia, chris, on their side in this effort. they don't have the u.s. congress behind them. the military people i'm talking to are very leery -- >> i thought they were arming
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the rebels. >> they are. s that different than doing the no-fly zone. >> in the arab world which you know and covered it and represented us over there, are the young people, people in their 20s and 30s sitting in cafes, are they rooting for us to go in and whack this guy or are they going toned up rooting for their fellow arab against the west? >> no. they are rooting for us now. >> why? >> first of all, it is a different generation. they are not the generation of their fathers. gadhafi represents the generation of their fathers and of the 50-year old -- 70-year-old leaders of the arab world. they want new change. they want a new generation coming in to take over. >> thank you, sir. thank you for covering all the bases. up next from the crisis in libya to japan, we will switch back to that big story. u.s. officials say the crisis in japan is worse than three mile island. category five. we will get to the latest to avertd a meltdown.
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welcome back to hardball. japan raised its rating to a five on a seven-point scale. the crisis now even surpassed three-mile island. that's the standard. there it is on the score on the grid. time is running out. workers raced to avoid a full-blown meltdown and more of the situation in the nuclear problem, the former senior nuclear power plant operator. and david albright, a former nuclears inspector and president for the institute of science international security. well, michael, let's go to the whole question. what does it mean to go to five? >> probably the more relevant point is is that it's a three-mile island. the real bottom line here is that we have a situation where the nuclear complex has been
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compromised as a result of a station blackout. the reactors had a very limited cooling for some period of time, and have released some form of their nuclear radioactivity and the -- the issue that makes this similar to three-mile island is the style of the reactor. the thing that makes it more complex is the fact that we do not have one reactor that's affected here, we have four, plus a very large spent fuel cord. >> what's your worry now that it's reached five -- does that mean it will keep heading upwards in terms of horror? >> the real core issue, no pun intended, is to get power restored to the facility. i saw reports here this morning that tepco has been able to run in lines from the neighboring facility and getting power is crucial to getting us out of the woods here. >> does that mean the pumps will
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work? >> stable -- and once we get power restored, things will recover quite quickly. >> are you confident that the power restored would mean the pump's activated? >> the safety systems in the power plants are designed to withstand the seismic event. i'm quite hopeful -- they have redundant safety systems in each facility. i'm relatively confident that once they get power restored and start recovering the systems in a systematic fashion, they should be able to cobble together a series of pieces of equipment that would enable them to get out of this. >> let me go back to david. david, let me ask you about the question of where this -- are we looking at basically years and years of dead zone in japan? around these facilities, no matter where it goes from now. is it where they're living and working? >> most of the radiation has gone out to sea. and there's been significant releases and you can see it in
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some of the readings that are in one. most of the time the radiation is going out to sea. the site itself is going to have to be carefully monitored. there's so many reactors that will have to be entombed. >> and that means surrounded by concrete? >> concrete, yeah. but the -- but the area -- there's not a lot of information in the amount of chemicals in the environment. that will be the key indicator on how much land is contaminated. >> translate this to the normal worries. people are watching programs on this all over the country in every network is they think it's an object lesson in the use of nuclear weapon and the use of technology and worried that japan will have the influence on the people there and also the people there. >> radiation causes dread and people are worried about getting cancer and other illnesses. >> should they be? >> they should be, but not in this case in the united states.
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the risk will be very low. >> how about over there? >> they didn't evacuate as many people as the u.s. recommended. the dose rates i've been looking at them for a couple of days, i think the united states made the right decision. >> 51. >> 50. >> 19. >> wasn't good enough. >> should be careful. decide to be careful with this. and one of the reasons that you're careful with this is we have higher assurance that they're not going to face it later. >> we're getting word that the japanese government has gotten to the point that it's overcoming the pride and setting the lines for which the japanese are famous and helping for help on the outside. what about it? is it a failure on their part to do what they needed help to do? >> chris, i think one thing the >> they were dealing with a catastrophe of biblical proportions and would have overwhelmed virtually any organization in the world, i
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believe. i certainly -- there's no doubt that kind of on a going forward basis, we have to recognize that in a catastrophe that they should have asked for help earlier. >> up next, "your business." b. last year. (oof). i had a bum knee that needed surgery. but it got complicated, because i had an old injury. so i wanted a doctor who had done this before. and unitedhealthcare's database helped me find a surgeon. you know you can't have great legs, if you don't have good knees. we're 78,000 people looking out for 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. how are you getting to a happier place? running there? dancing there? how about eating soup to get there? campbell's soups fill you with good nutrition,
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